Bison has 220 outlets under its myNEWS.com. brand and operates the WHSmith stores within Malaysian international airports.
The firm first signalled its intention to move into the manufacturing arena last year when it acquired bakery products business Otaru Fine Food.
It has now secured deals with Japanese partners Gourmet Kineya for ready-to-eat food production and MRA Bakery to produce bakery products at its site in
Dang Tai Luk, executive director & CEO of Bison, said bringing in Japanese expertise would help to improve the underdeveloped and underserved ready-to-eat market in Malaysia. Bison will have 51% stake in both joint-venture companies and invest RM35.7 million.
Under the agreement with Gourmet Kineya, a new joint-venture company called myNEWS Kineya Sdn Bhd will produce ready-to-eat food with a combined capital of RM50 million.
Gourmet Kineya is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and has one of the largest in-flight meals catering businesses in Japan, a frozen food manufacturing business, and an international restaurant chain.
In the agreement with MRA Bakery Sdn Bhd, new joint-venture company myNEWS Ryoyupan Sdn Bhd will produce bakery products with a combined capital of RM20 million.
Ryoyupan Baking Co Ltd, the principal partner which owns a 20% share in MRA, is one of the top five players in the Japanese bakery industry focusing on manufacturing, wholesale distribution and sales of high-quality bread and confectionery, and is a major producer of ready-to-eat food in Japan.
Bison has earmarked approximately RM20.4 million for the joint ventures, with the balance of approximately RM15.3 million to be financed by internally-generated funds.
Dang added that the importance of convenience stores in Malaysia had grown as consumers’ lifestyles continue to improve.
Said Dang: “There is an increasing demand for convenient access to retail stores that offer a variety of quality products and services.
“These joint ventures are in line with Bison’s growth and expansion strategy as they will contribute to increase the quality of myNEWS.com’s food offerings with an increased range of high quality and attractive product offerings.”
He added: “In turn, this is expected to support store traffic growth and reinforces customer loyalty, therefore contributing to Bison’s strategies of opening more stores and expanding the product line-up to retain and attract new customers.”